PLANS to relocate the historic Coventry Cross have now sparked fears that parts of the monument could be lost.
Heritage group the Coventry Society has raised fresh concerns after a planning application was submitted by Coventry City Council.
As we reported last month, proposals to relocate and restore the sculpture to outside Primark and Greggs sparked anger – and are set to cost the taxpayer £150,000.
But a council spokesperson has acknowledged this budget only covers the ‘dismantling and cleaning’ of the Cross – and not its restoration.
The society is concerned parts of the monument may be demolished, with parts needing to be totally reconstructed.
They also fear that – like the much-loved Naiad statue finally back on display at Friargate – it could be placed in storage and hidden from public view.
A council spokesperson said it ‘hopes’ to retain the whole of the Cross – with only the steps beneath it to be lost.
And added the sculpture will be in its new location near Ironmonger Row in time for the city’s year as UK City of Culture 2021.
The ancient landmark – located between the cathedral and Holy Trinity Church – dates back to the 14th Century.
It was replicated by celebrated sculptor George Wagstaff in 1976 and is hailed as an iconic part of the city’s medieval history.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle conceded the relocation is due to requests by a retailer which is considering opening a restaurant in an expanded Cathedral Lanes shopping centre.
The society’s Paul Maddocks said: “The City Council has been asked about the total cost of restoring the sculpture and re-erecting it and is not able to answer the question.
“They say that until the existing cross is dismantled and they have been able to assess the fixing arrangements, existing steel frame and other key elements no final cost can be provided from contractors.
“However we have heard from a reliable source that the total cost is likely to be in the region of £500,000, leaving a shortfall of around £350,000.
“We also question why the public sector is being asked to pay for a relocation which only appears to benefit one business.”
The society and Mr Wagstaff had previously expressed concerns the sculpture is out of character with the modern architecture which surrounds its new position.
They claim the monument was designed specifically to be part of the city’s medieval quarter.
A council spokesperson said: “We hope to retain the whole Cross above the steps, but we will not know if that is possible until we take it down.
“The area will be opened up as an extension of the public space and some will be made available to Cathedral Lanes and the businesses there.
“The existing walls and railings behind the Cross, that are 1980s style, will be taken down and replaced with a more sympathetic look – with sandstone and other materials complimentary to the cathedral area.
“The budget is £150,000, but we will know more once we have been able to take it down and have a proper look.”